This is one of the most scenic loops in the Cuyahoga Valley. It's rocky and rough, so make sure you've got sufficient footgear. There are striking, canopied hemlock trails to moss-covered rock formations, ferns, Ice Box Cave, and more at the Ledges. The payoff to the route—good for more advanced hikers and those testing out new shoes, packs, and gear—is the amazing cliff ledge overlook and massive rock staircase. Or you can access the overlook from the parking lot for an easier reward. Steep in spots, this is a route that makes you think you're not in Ohio anymore; perhaps somewhere else in the world entirely, surely not the Cleveland-Akron area.
There's a lot of rocky sections along here. While these sections are fun for adventurous folks, they might be tough for anyone with mobility issues or very small children. Proceed with caution. Also, be sure to bring a map - there are a lot of connectors around here, which can be confusing.
This route combines the Ledges Trail
with the Pine Grove Trail
, to create a longer outing than just one trail, though both are similar in characteristic.
The Ledges Trail
is a moderate excursion through sandstone cliffs, known as Ritchie Ledges
, and there are plenty of places on this trail where confident footing will come in handy. There are some very cool petroglyphs that date back to the 1900s along the, though it's not known who carved them. Note that Ice Box Cave is closed to all visitors to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome, which is dangerous for local bats. Please respect all closures for the safety of CVNP's wildlife.
Whether or not you plan on exploring the deep caves during your visit, you can count on one of the best views of autumn from the cliffs and the best CVNP sunset, period. Note: the trail and cliffs are open year-round, but winter navigation should come with a bit of caution because the formations can be slippery. But even then, if timed right, this is one of the best views of the Cuyahoga Valley.
Near the Ritchie Ledges
, the Pine Grove Trail
mirrors the Ledges Loop at a moderate 2.2 miles in length. This is a beautiful trail is filled with deciduous greenery as well as hemlock, oak, wildflowers, switchgrass, and other foliage. While Pine Grove is moderately strenuous, it's not steep or so perilous as to separate friends and family based on skill set. With the right footwear, everyone in your group can enjoy a hike or run here and still have plenty of time and energy to explore other sections of the park. For a full-day adventure, bring along a picnic and spend some time enjoying a meal together. What makes this trail great beyond that is versatility: the grounds are quite nice and make a great landscape to escape to, no matter what route you choose.
If you like learning from your field guide, there's plenty of undisturbed prairie vegetation to look up here. People who want to build in more family time by hiking and picnicking can include this route into a day-long outing in the CVNP. Outdoorsy families looking for a rental location for a family reunion spot are going to love it, too.